RESTAURANT Trends for 2010
Coming to America – International influences are ingrained. Sriracha (rooster sauce) is the new salsa, which replaced the old ketchup. Vietnamese Banh Mi is the new Ham & Swiss; and Middle Eastern spices and spreads go mainstream as pizza makes way for pide. Forget chicken noodle soup, it is pho; pho sure.
Examples: Short rib sliders with Sriracha aioli at E&O Trading Co. (San Francisco, Larkspur and San Jose, CA); Sourdough bread and lavash with feta walnut spread and Caspian tapenade at Zare at Fly Trap (San Francisco, CA)
This Is a Stick Up – Small foods on a stick. Skewers, satay, and yakitori; no ifs, ands or kebabs about it.
Examples: Satay at Pranna (New York, NY); Anticuchos at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana (multiple locations worldwide)
Use Your Noodle – Asian noodles including ramen, soba and pho; from basic broths to high-charged broths with barbecued meats and all sorts of additions.
Examples: Big Bowl (multiple locations, ILL, VA, MN)
Sandwich Smorgasbord – Enjoy a globally inspired buffet of sandwich style options including Scandinavian open faced, Indian Kati rolls, PLTs with pancetta or pork belly, international grilled cheeses and tricked out Mexican tortas bursting at the seams. There’s a reason why delicous begins with Deli.
Examples: The Sentinel (San Francisco, CA); Take a Bao (Century City, CA)
Love Shack Baby– Seafood shacks go upscale and mainstream, even in inland areas. Old favorites like oysters, fried clams, fish ‘n chips, lobster rolls, crab cakes and clam chowder, as well as fish tacos, clam bakes, lobster boils and all encompassing fish frys. We’re hooked.
Examples: Nettie’s Crab Shack (San Francisco, CA); Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll (multiple locations, East Coast)
School of Fish – Pristine local organic produce is no longer enough, chefs and guests are casting their nets beyond small, local, sustainable and organic farming to demand sustainable seafood certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch and other eco-conscious organizations. So long snapper; make way for mackerel.
Examples: Area 31 (Miami, FLA); Fish (Sausalito, CA)
Dinner Theatre – Interactive entrees, apps and desserts create an experience not just a dish. From simple tableside preparations, mix it yourself tartar, sauces added at the table, build your own sundaes and ingredients that pop in your mouth; dinner is the show. We’ll all work for food.
Example: Cote de boeuf pour deux served and sliced tableside at Grand Cafe Brasserie and Bar, (San Francisco, CA); at home dessert kits from Mi2Sweets (San Francisco, CA)
One Plate Wonders – The carte du jour is combined for speed, efficiency, cost-savings and fun. It’s a completely fresh take on the blue plate special.
Examples: TV dinner at FIVE (Berkeley, CA); Quadrifoglio at SD26 (New York, NY), Red plate special at Red Star Tavern and Roast House (Portland, OR)
Suit-Your-Size – One size doesn’t always fit all. Entrees available in small and large sizes lets guests tailor the experience to size. Call it the shrinking waste-line.
Examples: Perbacco (San Francisco, CA) and Poggio (Sausalito, CA) offer pastas in half and full sizes; Hobson’s Choice (Williamstown, MA) offers most entrees and the Mudd pie dessert in full and half sizes.
Downsizing – Small is now smaller. With smaller budgets and more flexible menus we’ll see the equivalent of cocktail hors d’oeuvres; something to nibble with your drink before (or in lieu of) a full meal. Mini tacos, snack sized empanadas, finger sandwiches, sliders, and riblets. Equally approachable for the waistline and wallet these are the new essential handheld devices.
Examples: Best-O-Burger (San Francisco, CA); “Three bites and a flight” three mini tacos and a flight of paired wines Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar (Sonoma, CA)
Paint My Plate – Restaurants and art galleries merge as restaurants with art galleries attached open and art galleries bring in chefs and food for artistic food-focused events.
Examples: 18 Reasons (San Francisco, CA); Mua (Oakland, CA)
Garden Tap – Sausages and suds under the open sky. Beer gardens with good grub are spreading like Teutonic plague.
Examples: Charlie’s Kitchen, (Cambridge, MA) Café Berlin, (Denver, CO)
Eat Street – It’s the food truck tweet-up, a mash-up of narrowly focused food purveyors clustered together and sharing a communal seating area. Consider it the new block party.
If You’re Happy and You Know it… – Extend happy hours; start early, go late and offer a second late night shift. How happy can you get?
Examples: Postrio happy hour 2:30pm – 6:30pm (San Francisco, CA), Grand Cafe Brasserie & Bar happy hour 4pm – 7pm (San Francisco, CA)